First-Year Seminar:
Language's Power to Write Our Worlds

English 140
Fall 2003
Professor Portnoy
Email Address:


Schedule of Assignments

Assignments are due at the beginning of class on the date listed.
Please note that this schedule of assignments is subject to change.
We will be adding viewings of movies and some readings during the semester.
Texts in [brackets] are not included in the course readings.
Changes will be announced in class and posted on the course website,
You are responsible for all changes announced in class.

A very special thanks to Anne Curzan, Rebecca Ingalls, Joshua Miller, and Kavita Padiyar
for their suggestions and assistance with readings for this class.

September October November December


Date Day Topics for Discussion and Assignments Due
September 2 Tuesday First day of class
Welcome and introductions
Declaration of Independence
September 4 Thursday

Course Information, Schedule of Assignments
Derrida, "Declarations of Independence" (PDF, 317 KB)
Crowley and Hawhee, Ancient Rhetorics for Contemporary Students, Chapter 1 (PDF, 1.0 MB)

September 9 Tuesday

Terministic Screens
Burke, "Terministic Screens"
Postman and Powers, "The Bias of Language"
Bohannan, "Shakespeare in the Bush"

September 11 Thursday Discussions of theory and texts continue from Tuesday
September 16 Tuesday

Words, Words, Words
[Carlin, "They're Only Words" and "Euphemisms"]
Steinem, "Words and Change"
Dyer, "In a Word"
Naylor, "The Meanings of a Word" (two versions)
Fears, "Latinos or Hispanics?"

September 18 Thursday Communities of Practice and Discourse Communities
Eckert and McConnell-Ginet, "Communities of Practice"
Bizzell, "What is a Discourse Community?"
September 23 Tuesday Identification
Heath, "Identification"
Jasinski, "Identification"
September 25 Thursday Discussions continue
Have you stopped by to chat during office hours yet?
September 30 Tuesday

Constitutive Rhetoric
Charland, "Constitutive Rhetoric"
Jasinski, "Constitutive Rhetoric"
[Macintosh "1984" Advertisement, Musical Selections]

October 2 Thursday Guest Lecture: Anne Curzan
October 7 Tuesday

Lakoff, "We First" and "Language, Politics, and Power"
Carmichael, "What We Want"
King, Black Power
White, "Mandela's Speech . . . Lincoln's Second Inaugural"

October 9 Thursday Discussions continue
October 14 Tuesday No Class: Fall Break
October 16 Thursday Gender
Nilsen, "Sexism in English: A 1990s Update"
Miller and Swift, "Who's In Charge of the English Language?"
October 21 Tuesday [Killing Us Softly 3: Advertising's Image of Women]
October 23 Thursday Speech Codes
Toobin, "Speechless"
Hentoff, "'Speech Codes' on the Campus and the Problems of Free Speech"
Mid-semester evaluation of the course
October 28 Tuesday Discussions continue
October 30 Thursday First Exam
November 4 Tuesday

Anzaldúa, "How to Tame a Wild Tongue"
Fusco, "Bilingualism, Biculturalism, and Borders"
Rodriguez, "Public and Private Language"
Hayakawa, "Bilingualism in America: English Should be the Only Language"

November 6 Thursday

Discussions continue

November 11 Tuesday Black English
Jones, "What's Wrong with Black English"
Jordan, "Nobody Mean More to Me Than You And the Future Life of Willie Jordan"
Baldwin, "If Black English Isn't a Language, Then Tell Me, What Is?"
Rickford and Rickford, "What's Going On?"
Smitherman, "English Teacher, Why You Be Doing the Thangs You Don't Do?"
November 13 Thursday Discussions continue
November 18 Tuesday

Constructions of Categories and History
Tompkins,"'Indians': Textualism, Morality, and the Problem of History"
["Real Indian" Advertisement]

November 20 Thursday [Off the Straight and Narrow: Lesbians, Gays, Bisexuals, and Television]
November 25 Tuesday Discussions continue
November 27 Thursday No class: Thanksgiving recess
December 2 Tuesday Dyer, "White" (excerpt)
[Being White]
December 4 Thursday Wrap-up, review, and class evaluations
December 9 Tuesday Second Exam

September October November December

Most recent update: August 21, 2003.

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A.P. 2003